I was all prepared to kick off another year of OEM columns with the usual: Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and outlining the year ahead for PMMI. It does feel like the first time in a long time that we have a full slate of in-person trade shows (EXPO PACK Guadalajara, June 13 – 15 and PACK EXPO Las Vegas, Sept. 11-13), meetings (Executive Leadership Conference, April 15 – 18 and the Young Professionals Conference and PMMI Road Show July 19-20), as well as other PMMI and industry events to look forward to.
But, I was interrupted by a ping notifying me of a LinkedIn post that shifted my focus to another excellent, yet underutilized, PMMI member benefit.
The post was about PMMI member Hoosier Feeder Company taking advantage of the PMMI U Skills Fund to provide Whitewater Career Center of Connersville, Indiana, with funds to improve its Welding Technology Program. Like trade schools, these local career centers offer high school students real-life experiences, skills, and knowledge to succeed in today’s working world. This came across my screen just as we approached our March 31st closing date for applications for PMMI Foundation scholarships.
To that end, the PMMI U Skills Fund is a no-brainer for members seeking to form partnerships with regional two- to four-year colleges, technical schools, and high schools. This can lead to ready-made internships and apprenticeships in the short term. Long-term, it's an investment in the skills and knowledge of students to ensure a highly skilled workforce of the future. The PMMI U Skills Fund will match your company’s contributions of up to $50,000 per year to programs of your choice. It could even be a STEM summer camp that already exists. In the case of Pearson Packaging, they sponsored a school’s robotics team and created a three-week manufacturing academy to promote packaging and processing careers. For its part, JLS Automation supported Penn State York via funds and equipment, and found eight interns and four full-time employees as part of their Skills Fund partnership.
These are just some of the ways members have used the money provided by the PMMI Foundation. The PMMI Foundation works to grow awareness of careers in packaging and processing and aids schools and programs that develop students to excel in the industry. It also provides financial support for packaging and processing education throughout the U.S. and Canada. In the past 25 years, the PMMI Foundation has given almost $3 million to strengthen the workforce within the packaging and processing industry via camps, training, tuition reimbursement for current employees, and over a dozen scholarship offerings.
The funds are raised at events such as the Foundation golf tournament, PACK Gives Back, the Amazing Packaging Race, the Executive Leadership Conference silent auction, and generous donations from individuals at PMMI member companies.
The workforce issues plaguing all of manufacturing are not going away. Therefore, it is on us to find ways to attract and educate the current and future workforce on the many benefits of a career in packaging and processing. PMMI Foundation scholarships can help.
For a full list of available PMMI Foundation scholarships, go to: pmmi.org/foundation/scholarships.